Yes, it was another dismal holiday in the Windy City, with gang violence running wild. 47 wounded and nine dead, including a seven year old boy whose father – a multiple conviction criminal with recent illegal gun charges – was probably the actual target. Sure, those numbers sound like bad news, (and they are) but the actual title of the Washington Post article covering the story includes the caveat… but better than last year.

Chicago was yet again riddled with a flurry of shootings this Fourth of July weekend, with at least 47 wounded and nine killed, according to multiple media reports. 

The numbers were down from last year’s holiday weekend after police increased their presence by nearly a third — 2014 saw over 80 shootings with 16 fatalities. Police also seized over 80 illegal guns over the holiday, averaging around one per hour, DNA Info reported.

Some 3,400 illegal guns have been confiscated so far this year, according to the city’s police department.

I guess it technically is an improvement over 16 dead in 80 shootings, but that’s a pretty low bar to beat. The police chief, Garry McCarthy, is pleading for more enforcement resources and harsher laws for illegal gun possession. It would be nice if you could get the politicians to listen to him, because gun control laws, background checks and all the rest don’t do anything to lower this sort of crime. The Chief isn’t chasing down people who stand in line at a store, pass the normal checks and purchase a gun legally. He’s fighting gang members who aren’t terribly concerned about violating gun laws on their way to murder someone.

To their credit, Illinois finally became the last state in the union to pass a concealed carry law in 2013, though implementation has been tooth and nail, particularly in Chicago. The city has layered on one new rule after another, almost eliminating gun shops inside the city and forcing purchasers to be videotaped during transactions. Still, the crime rate has dropped since it began last year, perhaps due in part to criminals being more worried about whether their potential victims were packing.

Allowing the law abiding to arm themselves is a good first step and it seems to be paying off early dividends. One of the most recent reports shows that the largest numbers of permits issued in the Chicago area went to homeowners in high crime areas and neighborhoods with a heavy police presence. That’s great for them but as I mentioned above, that’s not going to end the gang violence which results in these sorts of death tolls over a holiday weekend. Adequate enforcement and harsh penalties for those with no regard for the law are also required, even while recognizing that this is a financial burden for some urban areas.

Unfortunately, those needs don’t get the kind of attention they deserve because politicians don’t seem to like talking about “this kind of crime.” It’s not politically popular to point out gang violence in the cities and work toward solutions there because such crimes don’t provide the same kind of media mileage as a cop shooting a suspect or a lone maniac shooting up a crowded building. Politicians would rather talk about other things, even when they’re wrong. Just this week the Washington Post had to give another Four Pinocchio rating to Senator Chris Murphy (D-Conn) for repeating the discredited claim that there are school shootings happening every week.

As long as we allow the press and the politicians to keep up this line of attack we’re never going to make any real progress on the underlying problem. Pushing laws which only affect people who pay attention to such laws doesn’t stop gang violence such as Chicago saw this weekend. As I’ve been saying for years, the actual problem was never too many guns. It’s too many criminals and maniacs. And until we get more aggressive about reducing those numbers the body count from gun deaths won’t be significantly reduced.